Updated: Oct 16, 2021
Almost all of our daily conversations have strong ties to social media and the Internet, even more so during the isolation of the pandemic. Today, people go online to find new recipes, engage with their friends and relatives, or scroll carelessly. The Internet is also a place that individuals visit to find information about recent events.
For instance, last summer, people were commenting on the Black Lives Matter movement and viewing memes, Twitter posts, and news articles describing the presidential debates and election via the Internet and social media.
Individuals learned about these moments in history through social media, which isn’t surprising because the pandemic has forced individuals to learn about all events through others online. If this was not the case, then the Black Lives Matter protests would not have been as publicized as they were.
However, humans’ growing dependence on social media is disintegrating our ability to apply truth and fact to current events. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, social media is misinforming the people at a time when people have no choice but to depend on the media for information.
For example, when the Capitol Hill insurrection took place, online feeds and news articles were the only mechanisms to witness what was going on. Inevitably, we believed absolutely everything on our screens. Sources showed the mobs climbing the walls and the violence that ensued. While this was accurate, wasn’t it only partially so? The moment someone became aggressive in front of a camera, the media capitalized on it. People were worried about the anarchic turn our society was taking, but that claim stemmed from exaggerated media reports, an inaccurate source of judgment.
Exaggerated media affects other walks of life as well , not solely politics and crime. Misinformation is a dangerous concept with regard to COVID-19. When former president Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19, doctors at Walter Reed prescribed hydroxychloroquine to combat the virus. Trump and other political supporters started vying for the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine as a potential “cure” to COVID-19. People started believing it, partly due to the politicization of the drug and the extensive media coverage on the topic. Later, reputable medical sources denied the claimed ability of hydroxychloroquine to cure the virus.
Some may argue that the media is emerging as a stable platform for leisure and advocacy, allowing our generations and generations after us to embrace a sense of modernity. Yet, civic engagement and polarization wrecks this concept of positive modernity, which is using modern ideas for good, since a perplexing relationship between human actions and media coverage exists. Misinformation is extremely hard to prevent, and at a time like the current pandemic, it can be harmful.
So, just how much are we falling into the trap of distorted media?
The commentary from the Capitol Hill mobs and the false beliefs of using hydroxychloroquine as a cure, unfortunately, confirmed that the media can be distorted, yet some people don’t realize it due to the media serving as an escape from pandemic-triggered isolation.
My advice is to put your perspective and research before all else; trust lasting truth and fact before submitting yourself to the vortex of distorted media.